She drew her head-covering farther forward, and moved to the door. It sloped to her shoulders and made them droop; her native clothes clung about her breast and her hips in the cringing Oriental way. Miss Howe looked after her guest with a curl of the lip as uncontrollable as it was unreasonable. “A saved soul, perhaps. A woman—oh, assuredly,” she said in the depths of her hair.
The door had almost closed upon Captain Filbert when Alicia made something like a dash at an object about to elude her. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “wait a minute. Will you come and see me? I think—I think you might do me good. I live at Number Ten, Middleton Street. Will you come?”
Laura came back into the room. There was a little stiffness in her air, as if she repressed something.
“I have no objection,” she said.
“To-morrow afternoon—at five? Or—my brother is dining at the club—would you rather come to dinner?”
“Whichever is agreeable to you will suit me.” She spoke carefully, after an instant’s hesitation.
“Then do come and dine—at eight,” Alicia said; and it was agreed.
She stood staring at the door when Laura finally closed it, and only turned when Hilda spoke.
“You are going to have him to meet her,” she said. “May I come too?”
“Certainly not.” Alicia’s grasp was also by this time on the door handle.
“Are you going too? You daren’t talk about her!” Hilda cried.
“I’m going too. I’ve got the brougham. I’ll drive her home,” said Alicia, and went out swiftly.
“My goodness!” Hilda remarked again. Then she got up and found her slippers and wrote a note, which she addressed to the Reverend Stephen Arnold, Clarke Mission House, College Street. “Thanks immensely,” it ran, “for your delightful offer to introduce me to Father Jordan and persuade him to show me the astronomical wonders he keeps in his tower at St. Simeon’s. An hour with a Jesuit is an hour of milk and honey, and belonging to that charming Order, he won’t mind my coming on a Sunday evening—the first clear one.”
Miss Howe signed her note and bit consideringly at the end of her pen. Then she added: “If you have any influence with Duff Lindsay, it may be news to you that you can exert it with advantage to keep him from marrying a cheap ethereal little religieuse of the Salvation Army named Filbert. It may seem more fitting that you should expostulate with her, but I don’t advise that.”